Basketball Without Borders: Orme Star Thriving

The twisting dirt road off Interstate 17 which leads to The Orme School on the outskirts of tiny Mayer, Arizona is a far cry from bustling Istanbul, Turkey with a population of close to 15 million residents. Skilled junior point guard Cenk Esinduy (pronounced Jenk Ess-in-doy) is hoping the move out west to the distinguished prep school will eventually help him fulfill his dream of playing college basketball.

“After high school there isn’t something like college basketball in Turkey,” Esinduy said to after a recent 23-point, eight-rebound, six-assist game against Scottsdale Cicero Prep. “I thought that college basketball was the best option.”

Orme school azcentralSo the well-built, 6-foot-3 Esinduy left his family, friends and comfortable surroundings of Istanbul for the 142-student boarding school which was opened back in 1929 by Charles and Minna Orme. The couple were former Phoenix dairy farmers who purchased the land and opened a one-room school in the old ranch house for their three children.

Esinduy’s transition from one side of the world to the other has gone relatively smoothly.

“First days I was kind of shocked because there are only 450 people in the community,” Esinduy explained. “I think it was way easier than I thought because of the people. The people here so friendly. We are so close to each other. We are like a family.”

That family-like support has been key for the 6-1 Warriors who continue to thrive behind the versatile play of their 18-year-old point guard.

Orme photo 3“He’s just so mature,” Orme head coach Austin Hudson said to “He does everything we ask. The kids really look up to him. He came in and impressed me right away. I have nothing but positive things to say about his game and the way he carries himself.”

Esinduy, who patterns his play after NBA greats like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook is focused on continuing to improve in hopes of one day playing in college.

“The most important thing in anything in life is mentality,” he said. “I believe in working hard and getting better and never giving up.”

Whether in Istanbul or Mayer, Cenk Esinduy’s future is bright both on and off the court.